Is the Construction Sector Ready to Weather the Impacts of Climate Change?

Is the Construction Sector Ready to Weather the Impacts of Climate Change?

Globally, a growing alliance of countries and businesses have collectively pledged to achieve significant emission reductions by 2030 and secure a global Net Zero goal by 2050. You can read more about the rising importance of carbon accounting in one of our previous blog posts here –

For countries to accomplish these targets, all sectors must contribute to green initiatives which will eventually reduce their overall carbon footprint. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2022 reveals that the real estate and construction sector accounted for ~37% of global CO2 emissions in 2021, making it one of the largest contributors.

This worldwide awareness and zest for achieving climate targets has ushered in paradigm transformations in the basic workings of several sectors. Commercial builders have started deploying more sustainable, non-toxic, and eco-friendly construction practices via the Green Buildings Initiative (GBI). “Green Buildings”, as a concept, has been consistently gaining traction in the real estate construction sector as it aims to reduce harmful impacts on the environment by using renewable resources, low-impact building materials, energy systems, waste reduction, indoor air quality, etc. As part of their contribution towards global emissions control, several large construction companies have also committed towards having a net zero carbon real estate portfolio by 2050.

However, this transition comes with its share of benefits as well as stumbling blocks. When compared with conventional building materials, the upfront cost of using green building material (especially recycled products) is moderately higher and leads to higher construction cost and reduced profitability. The issue also gets aggravated with impediments arising in the availability and access to these materials, which at times can bump up costs for builders. The focus on climate control also brings in its wake an increased focus on quality checks – sterner building standards and codes to adhere to, increased compliance requirements – essentially resulting in higher compliance related costs.

The impact of climate change is almost palpable in the construction sector in more ways than one. A report by the Forbes Technology Council suggests that almost 40-45% of construction projects worldwide are delayed every year due to adverse weather conditions. And there is ample data on global climate change which reveals such unprecedented and unpredictable weather events are becoming increasingly prevalent on the back of tangible shifts in global weather patterns. Delays in projects can even lead to longer inventory holding times and associated security at sites due to prolonged shutdowns, leading to even higher insurance and overall project costs.

One important workaround for such hurdles is a focussed R&D strategy to develop economical, yet durable, environment friendly construction material for the sector. Increased availability and accessibility of such material will help builders further their adoption. As with all other sectors, technology can also play a significant role in alleviating certain stumbling blocks. Use of advanced AI-based applications can offer complex and automated weather capture and forecasting, allowing builders to create effective project plans and mitigate risks from adverse weather conditions.

Promoting sustainable construction practices that meet strict environmental standards and retro-fitting buildings with energy-efficient upgrades can help the sector lower its carbon footprint. However, in the current scenario, builders seem to be at an economic disadvantage in making this transition. Hence, it becomes imperative for such companies to be able to strike a balance between the efforts for such a shift vis-à-vis their economic benefits. And consequently, to an extent it falls on governments to provide adequate support to the sector – in the form of policy support, funding support, tax rebates etc. – to make this shift efficiently. It is only with the joint efforts of governments and organizations that the ambitious global net zero targets can be achieved.

Author: Deepanshu Arora,

Assistant Consultant, Strategy Consulting

Image courtesy: evening_tao on Freepik

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